You know that quote about living in such a way that if anyone ever spoke badly of you, no one would believe it?
That’s this girl.
I’ve spent the last year getting to know female social entrepreneurs from around the globe and this one has a reputation that won’t stop. People don’t just know her. They LOVE her. The tone in their voices change when they mention her name. They’re passionate advocates for her.
I look forward to getting to know her better and helping you to do the same.
So let’s dive in!
Meet Elisabetta Colabianchi, Founder and CEO of Kurandza.
Hi Elisabetta! Would you share with us about yourself and what you were doing before you started Kurandza?
I’m from San Francisco, California but have also called San Diego, Italy, NYC, and my homes! I went to college at the University of San Diego where I studied Biology, foreign languages and Peace & Justice Studies. During my junior year, I studied abroad in Milan, Italy and took International Relations courses and fashion design. After college I moved to NYC to work for an anti-hunger non-profit and study global affairs at NYU. Then I left for Mozambique to serve with the Peace Corps for 3 years.
I’ve always had pets! I especially love cats and dogs. While in Mozambique, I had a mastiff named Shaka Zulu!
Tell us about the moment you knew for sure you had to do something. How did you muster the courage to actually do it? To start Kurandza?
When I got back from the Peace Corps, I knew that I wanted to stay connected and continue supporting the women who I lived and worked with in Mozambique! They are like family to me. I knew that my calling in life was to continue supporting these women and the amazing community that I belonged to.
I’ve always been a self-starter and love taking the initiative to start new projects, so starting a business was exhilarating!
Have there been moments you second guessed that you made the right decision?
Every day there are new challenges that can make me question why I’m doing what I’m doing! When these thoughts come to mind, I just have to remember why I started and what my mission in life is.
I know that I’m here to positively impact the world and inspire others to do the same.
Tell us all about your business model. How do you do good?
We help the community in many ways. We teach women who have never had a job before, the skills of sewing so that they can earn a living. The main reason we started Kurandza was to help provide an income to HIV+ women so that they would be able to pay for transportation to reach the hospital every month and pick up their medication. Now it has grown into much more.
The women have been able to pay for uniforms and schoolbooks for their children so that they can attend school and get an education. They can now better provide for their families and have even been able to improve their homes. We also offer health education, financial management trainings, and educational scholarships to these women. Recently the women of Kurandza have focused on sharing their skills and business knowledge with the entire community, teaching community members to start their own small businesses thereby creating economic opportunity for the entire village.
What would you say sitting across the table from another woman who says, “Sure. But you had money saved up, a spouse who can support you, a business degree, a support system, a platform, etc… You’re brave. You’re fearless. I’m risk averse, I’m … fill in the blank.”
I can say that when I started Kurandza I didn’t have many of those things that you mentioned; I only knew that I could do it because of my experience moving to New York after college with only a couple hundred dollars to my name and the dream to change the world. I had faith that I would find a job that would pay my expenses while also getting involved in the international development field—and I did!
Is there a quote you have on your desk that lifts your spirits when you’re down?
I have so many quotations framed in my workspace, and one of my favorites is “She believed she could so she did”. I think that this just about sums up my experience in the business so far. As long as you have the right mindset, you can do anything!
What are you the most passionate about regarding your business?
Having lived and worked in Mozambique for three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I was able to get to know these women one-on-one and found out what they need and desire for their lives. Kurandza works on the ground with these women and everything that we do directly impacts them. I have personally seen the difference that Kurandza has made in their community.
This is more than a business to me; it is my mission to teach them the skills that will help them create sustainable change in their lives and have a brighter future.
It’s so beautiful to see you living your HeartStories by helping these women create a brighter future for themselves Elisabetta! Thank you for sharing your story with us. We are so excited to partner with you at Fashioned for Freedom next week in Dallas!
What an inspiring story of a woman on a mission to create sustainable change. She saw a need and she owned it. It wasn’t her fault, wasn’t even her country, but she stepped up to the plate to say, “I’ve got this one.” and these women will never be the same.
What’s the need you’re stepping up to own?
No one else is coming. It’s all you sister.
You can do it! (and we’re here to help)
to more love,
P.S. If you’re local, near Dallas, now is the time to grab your tickets for the Fashioned for Freedom runway show to benefit the girls of My Refuge House. It’s less than ONE week away! Please come say hi. 😉 We have a very limited quantity of Kuranda’s line available in the shop that night and it’s first come, first served. Get your tickets here.